Council Alert: Human Rights Council June 2011 session
Thursday, 19 May 2011 17:00


The Human Rights Council (the Council) held the organisational meeting for its 17th session on 16 May. The June session will run from 30 May to 17 June. Fifteen special procedure mandate holders will present their reports to the Council, and engage in interactive dialogues. See the programme of work, the annotated agenda, and the list of reports for more information.


At the 17th session the Council will follow-up on the 14th, 15th, and 16th special sessions on Cote D’Ivoire, Libya, and Syria. The Commissions of Inquiry established in each case will report (reports not yet available) to the Council under Item 4 (situations that require the Council’s attention). The Commission of Inquiry into Libya will report on 6 June, while the Commissions of Inquiry into the situations in Cote d’Ivoire and Syria will report ten days later, on 16 June. In each case the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the commissioners. The unusual arrangement of splitting Item 4 is necessitated by the later conclusion of the two missions in Cote d’Ivoire and Syria, as a result of which the two reports cannot be completed and circulated in time for presentation to the Council on 6 June. The General Debate under Item 4 will still take place on 6 June.


Under Item 10 (technical assistance and capacity building), the Council will hear the report (as yet only available in French) of the Independent Expert on Haiti. Haiti took the floor to notify the Council that it had not received the Independent Expert’s report, even though it is publicly available. The State requested that the interactive dialogue be postponed in order to give it time to consider the report. The President did not indicate that such a suspension would be possible, but gave assurances that the report would be shared with the country.


The Independent Expert on Burundi is again scheduled to present a report to the Council, although it is unclear if the report initially scheduled for the 16th session will be updated. The Independent Expert has not appeared before the Council since September 2008 when it was decided that he would only report after the establishment of a national human rights institution. However it had been exceptionally agreed that the mandate holder could report to the 14th session of the Council. Neither this report nor the ones scheduled for the 15th and 16th sessions took place, presumably on grounds that Burundi had not received the written report in time to respond. Burundi did not take the floor during the organisational meeting, which may indicate that this time the State accepts that the interactive dialogue to proceed as scheduled. Since the State is in the process of establishing a national human rights institution, as requested by the resolution establishing the Independent Expert’s mandate, Burundi may call for the termination of the mandate at the 17th session.


A number of thematic special procedures mandates expire in June. The Council will have to decide on their renewal at this session. They include the following mandates:


1.     Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons

2.     Special Rapporteur on the right to education

3.     Special Rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty

4.     Special Representative  to the Secretary General on human rights and transnational corporations (as a Working Group)

5.     Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions

6.     Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity

7.     Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

8.     Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants


Norway announced its intention to introduce a procedural resolution to renew the mandate on human rights and transnational corporations, which would replace the post of Special Representative to the Secretary-General with a working group. It would have the mandate of disseminating the guiding principles developed by the current mandate holder, John Ruggie. Mr Ruggie will present the guiding principles to the 17th session of the Council in his last report as mandate holder. Norway also plans to use the resolution to establish a forum on business and human rights, which would meet for two days per year.


There was no announcement from either South Africa or the African Group regarding the resolution deferred at the 16th session of the Council, that would establish a working group with exclusive competence to discuss ‘new concepts’ such as sexual orientation and gender identity, with a view to incorporating them into international law through ‘established procedures’.


Portugal announced that it will ‘biennialise’ its traditional resolution on economic, social, and cultural rights, thus postponing it until next year. This follows the outcome of the review of the Council which called on States, on a voluntary basis, to only present thematic resolutions every two or three years.


Slovakia announced its intention to obtain cross-regional sponsorship for a resolution that would aim at the adoption of the new Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the Council, and its transmission to the General Assembly. The report (not yet available) from the second session of the Working Group on the Optional Protocol will be presented under Item 5 (human rights bodies and mechanisms).


The full list of resolutions announced by States during the organisational meeting appears below.


The rights of women will receive special attention: the Special Rapporteur on violence against women will present her report to the Council. There will also be a full-day meeting on women’s rights, sponsored by Chile and Canada focusing on violence against women and girls. Canada will introduce its traditional resolution on violence against women, focusing on protection this year.  This resolution is the second in a series of three planned resolutions by Canada, the first, adopted last year, focusing on prevention and the third, to be introduced next year, dealing with remedy.


Pakistan took the floor with regard to the planned panel discussion on ‘strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs’. The panel is mandated by resolution 16/18, which replaced Pakistan’s traditional resolution on ‘combating defamation of religions’ with a focus on combating intolerance and discrimination. The resolution was adopted by consensus. The panel debate may help to cement progress towards ending what has been a divisive debate in the Council. However it remains unclear just what the panel will focus on. At the organisational meeting Pakistan stated that it is still working with the secretariat to develop the details of the panel, and would make information available in the next few days.


The Council will also hold panel debates on best practices in the fight again racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance (sponsored by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group), and on the rights of victims of terrorism.


The Council will consider the outcomes of the 16 state reviews that took place during the 10th session of the UPR in January 2011. It was announced that consideration of the UPR of Libya (adopted by the UPR working group at its 9th session in November 2010) would again be postponed, until September 2011. At the 17th session the modalities for the second cycle of the UPR will be decided upon, taking into account the outcome of the review of the Council, including periodicity and order of review, the modalities of UPR working group, guidelines for documentation, and the trust fund for national consultations and implementation of recommendations. Informal negotiations will be led by the Ambassador of Morocco, who facilitated negotiations on the UPR during the review of the Council, on a date to be announced.


The President also announced that the secretariat is considering the introduction of an electronic system of inscription for speakers at the 18th session of the Council.


List of resolutions to be introduced at the 17th session, as announced by States during the organisational meeting:


Philippines and Germany


·         Renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking




·         Renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education


France, Chile, Peru, Belgium, Senegal


·         Renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty



·         Resolution to adopt the new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child


Norway, Argentina, India, Russia


·         Renewing the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and replacing the Special Representative with a working group




·         Elimination of violence against women, with an emphasis on protection




·         Renewing mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions




·         Cultural rights and cultural diversity

·         Peoples’ right to peace

·         Renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity

·         Foreign debt




·         Renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers




·         Right of everyone to highest standard of physical and mental health, focusing on development and access to medicines


Nigeria with the African Group


·         African descent and combating intolerance




·         Renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 May 2011 17:01
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